Feeling the Burn?
Learning how to manage “workplace stress” can make a big difference to your career!
The world of work most of us live in has created an unending list of possible stressors – more to do than hours in the day for doing, longer work hours, including time spent on nasty commutes, irritable bosses and anxious co workers dealing with the stress of achieving stretch goals.
No wonder so many employees end up quitting their jobs or delivering sub-par performance because of workplace stress.
But according to a study published in the Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Process journal, how each of us deals with these work place stressors is more under our control than we want to admit.
After reviewing 600 twins, raised together or apart, the study concluded that it was the shared genetics, not the factors identified as the source of stress, that best predicted how the individual would react.
What does this mean?
When we get to the point where we are thinking about quitting our jobs because of “all the stress”, we may want to look closer at what’s going on inside us – not just assume the source of our stress are all those things outside our control.
The study points out that each of us gets stressed by different elements in our external world, each of us reacts differently. A lot of how we deal with stress is caused by our own genetics (how we’re hard wired to deal with stuff) rather by all those things outside our control. In other words it may not be that boss who’s never satisfied, the moody co-worker, or the heavy workload that is causing our stress. It may be more about what’s going on inside us.
The good news is that when we start to view stress as something we own, and stop blaming it on things outside of our control, we can learn to manage it.
While we definitely need to stop going to work each day feeling stressed, changing jobs to get away from stress, is likely not the solution we want it to be.
Here’s three simple things you can do to manage stress….
- Pay attention to when and how stress gets triggered for you. Why? If stress is more a product of our genetics than our external environment, once we know the triggering factors, we can minimize their impact on our lives. Just like when you know that diabetes runs in your family, you can find ways to minimize your risk for diabetes by changing your eating and exercise habits.
- Don’t assume that all those things that are outside your control in the external environment are the real stressors for you. In reality, it may be only a few of those things that are the real culprits for you.
- Always take the time to explore your options for reducing your stress. Don’t assume there’s only one way out – escape.
What are your real stressors at work?
Is your boss creating your stress? If yes, how so? Do they assign you too much work? Not show enough appreciation for the work your doing? Do they criticize you publically? Are you trying to keep them from knowing just how much you don’t know about your job? What makes your interactions with your boss stressful for you?
Is it the job content that is creating your stress? Are you being asked to do work you don’t like to do? Are you being blamed for the mistakes of others? Are you being asked to do work that is too far outside your comfort zones? What is it?
This type of personal analysis is important because if you decide to change jobs, you’ll want to make sure you don’t put yourself back into the same type of situation you just left. It is also important because once you have identified the factors that for you create stress; you can look for ways to better manage those factors.
For example, if you discover its not really the job but the long commute you have to make each morning to get to work that is your real stressor, you have more than one option to get rid of that stress.
First of all, you can change jobs. In today’s economy that isn’t very hard to do as there is almost always a job you can do closer to home. And of course, should you decide to look for a job closer to your home, you can always contact PACE to find out what our current open positions are and where they’re located!
But if you love your job (the work content, the pay, your co-workers) and just hate the commute, there are a number of ways you can address that issue. You could ask for a different or flexible work schedule, arrange to work from home one or two days a week, or look for a different way of getting to work – a carpool, the new commuter train, or other forms of public transportation can provide a less stressful commute than fighting your way thru clogged traffic.
If your stress is caused by a difficult relationship with one or more coworkers, you can take the time to think about what YOU could do differently to improve your work relationship. Take your co- worker to lunch? Get to know them better? Learn that everything they are doing in the work environment doesn’t have to impact you. Getting along with others – including the difficult people you’ll find in every work environment – is a skill set every employee needs, in all work environments.
Blaming your stress on all those things you can’t control – your boss, your co-workers, your commute – and believing that you are without options to fix that issue, will not only keep you stuck in your current situation, but will keep you terminally under stress. In worse case, you will go from job to job, always feeling stressed, always dealing with the very same stressors you thought you had left behind.